Practical Life Lessons From My Dad

by Sarah Dyer

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Image source: iStockPhotos

My dad is a spitting image of Tim Allen - Tim Allen from Tool Time, how’s that for dating myself?  Was the name of the show Tool Time or was that just the show on the show? 

Either way, my dad is that character, although I’m not sure he would look as much like him if their personalities didn't seem so spot on. 

When I asked my dad if he knew what celebrity I thought he looked like, he said Pierce Brosnan (he’s going to kill me for saying that).  But he’s kind of right, sort of, he’s a Pierce/Tim hybrid, with all "Tim the Tool Time" personality.

There was once an episode where Tim Allen electrocuted himself trying to change the panel on a light switch and I swear that same week, my dad did the very same thing, not enough to hurt himself just enough to singe his fingertips - enough that it was funny. 


He’s always doing crazy stuff that just never seems safe to me but he always says, "Don’t worry, I got it".  He was once installing a dock that was at water level and he thought it would be neat if it had a curve to it so he pulled out his chainsaw and started sawing in the water, in bare feet.  

I have to give him credit though, he does get things done, albeit in an unconventional way and with a huge dose of creativity.  I've learned to stay away from him while he’s fixing something, for my own personal safety, but whenever something needed fixing, he’d be the first I’d ask. 

Over the years he has offered up some pretty blunt and dramatic advice that you may not consider telling your 10-year-old daughter, but nonetheless it is all very practical, and I will no doubt pass it on to my own kids.

What to Do if Held at Gunpoint:

When I was 10, we moved to Mexico City. It wasn't the safest city at the time, not horrible, but a little bit different than Toronto.  My dad, I guess, figured it was best if he drilled some street sense into our brain from the get-go and didn't care if we had nightmares about what could happen to us. 

He was an Eagle Scout, so ‘Be Prepared’ is part of his make-up.  His advice was, if someone grabs you and says they’ll shoot you if you don’t get in their car, call their bluff and make them shoot you on the street.  Awesome. That’s my best option? 

But from a practical standpoint, it is good advice.  What they will do to you if they get you in the car is much worse than being shot on the street was his theory, plus the likelihood of them actually shooting you is slim to none.  

So I walked a little taller and a little more confident waiting for someone to hold me up at gunpoint because I knew I had the knowledge to be able to react.

What to Do if Your Car Goes off a Bridge into Water:

When I first got my driver’s license we got the house rules as every new driver does: "Absolutely, under no circumstances, whatsoever, I don’t care if you have to call me at 4 in the morning (which I’d be grounded for anyway because that was way past my curfew) to pick you up, you never ever drive if you've been drinking.  You will never get in trouble for calling me for a ride." 

Got it, Dad. I won’t do that (drink and drive).  And I never did.  

Second, if you go off a bridge into water the first thing you do is roll down your windows and unlock your door.  

Huh?  What are you talking about?  How am I going to go off a bridge into water? What about wear a seatbelt and don’t speed?  Can’t you just give me that kind of advice?  

But when you are 16, you don’t really consider every potentially dangerous scenario and what to do if it occurs.  It gave me something to think about every time I was around water, sometimes I still put my hand on the window button, just in case. 

While my dad’s advice sounds like it's straight out of a Worst Case Scenario handbook, there are many other useful tips that he has enlightened us with.  Tying knots, starting a fire, how to take a sip from a 2 liter bottle without backwashing, how to whistle, getting a fish off the line (gross), changing a burnt out fuse (old school), changing light switch panels (cut the power first), and docking a boat are some of the ones that come to mind.  

My dad sees each of us as someone to pass useful information along to and I was happy it wasn't just my brother that was the sole recipient of life skills.

The moral of the story, is your kids are never too young to learn useful life skills.  Treat them as mature people that are paying attention even if they seem as though they’re not, because you never know what is going to stick. 

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